The Equality Act and our responsibilities

As a public sector organisation, the Council has a statutory duty to ensure that equality and diversity are embedded into all its functions and activities as required by the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It is underpinned by the public sector Equality Duty, which supports good decision-making by ensuring public bodies (and others providing public services) consider how different people will be affected by their activities, helping them to deliver policies and services which are efficient and effective, accessible to all and which meet different people's needs.

The Equality Act legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It introduced nine 'protected characteristics', making it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the grounds of age, disability, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender re-assignment, marriage and civil partners, religion or belief, and pregnancy or maternity. The Equality Act introduced a Public Sector Equality Duty. This Duty includes the General Duty and the Specific Duties. The General Duty requires public bodies to consider how the decisions that they make, and the services they deliver, affect people who share different protected characteristics. The Specific Duties require public bodies to publish information to show they did this.

The General Duty has three main aims. It requires public bodies to have 'due regard' to:

  1. Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  2. Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
  3. Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

Having due regard means consciously thinking about the three aims of the duty as part of the decision-making process. This means that consideration of equality issues must influence the decisions reached by public bodies in ways that include in how they act as employers, how policies are developed, evaluated and reviewed, how services are designed, delivered and evaluated and how services are commissioned and procured from others.

Advancing equality of opportunity involves considering the need to remove or minimise disadvantage suffered by people due to their protected characteristics, meet the needs of these people and encourage people to participate in public life where participation is low from people within the protected characteristics.

Fostering good relations involves tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people who share a protected characteristic and others. East Cambridgeshire district is a very rural district and people living outside the larger towns can find it difficult to access services. We will treat people fairly wherever they lice and make sure they get the services they need.